Alongside the challenges, the global coronavirus pandemic has brought opportunities for forward-thinking and agile businesses in the print sector to reassert and strengthen the position of printed media in the marketing mix.

The print industry’s BOUNCE BACK starts here and now…

Alongside the challenges, the global coronavirus pandemic has brought opportunities for forward-thinking and agile businesses in the print sector to reassert and strengthen the position of printed media in the marketing mix.

The ‘new normal’ has undoubtedly presented businesses with the need to find a new way of doing things – from how they supply their customers to the products and services they provide to them. Resilience and tenacity have been key in the survival of many, along with the ability to react and evolve quickly, as demonstrated by initiatives such as Bounce Back UK which offered a service providing free local listings and Covid-19 posters to support local businesses and keep communities safe.

One of the major challenges has been the change in the industry landscape, with sectors such as retail being hard hit as many ‘non-essential’ shops were forced to close. The way that events and conferences could be run also presented challenges for event organisers, and reduced the demand for print and signage in this sector, but at the same time presented opportunity as virtual events appeared, creating a need for pop-up displays, backdrops and ‘scenery’ to help create more of an engaging, aesthetic experience for the virtual attendees.

“The direct mail piece needs to be simple yet clever, the messaging succinct and memorable, and the print media needs to consider quality, consistency and sustainability”

Opportunity has also presented itself in the demand for packaging, labels and stickers, as hospitality businesses diversified into the takeaway trade, and a sharp increase in new start-ups, such as construction and landscaping businesses, emerged requiring door-drop flyers, business cards and brochures.

More than ever before businesses have had to be agile and adapt quickly, and in this predominantly digital world, the bounce back for print is a testing route. In many ways reinvention is key in order to ‘survive and thrive’, with difficult decisions having to be made along the way.

How has direct mail changed in 2020?

With change certainly comes opportunity, and one area that’s shown promise throughout the coronavirus pandemic is that of direct mail. Initially concerns were expressed about virus transmission from mail, but after the World Health Organisation and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention both confirmed no reported coronavirus transmission from a magazine, letter or package, direct mail was confirmed to be safe.

Not-for-profit industry organisation Two Sides produced an article on the facts relating to Covid-19 transmission through paper and cardboard surfaces.

Lockdown was reported to have been a contributor to the increase in direct mail activity, with mail interaction up by 14% according to the Joint Industry Committee for Mail. The transition to remote working for many office jobs meant that brands and businesses had an almost captive audience to market to.

In April this year, nearly half (46.6%) of people in employment in the UK did some of their work from home, the majority of which had an increased exposure to digital advertising, and for many, no doubt digital fatigue started to creep in. Paper and print prove to offer a far more tangible, authentic experience. Not only do they provide a welcome break from screen time, but they give people the opportunity to digest information in a different way. Picking up a magazine or brochure can be far more powerful than an online display or banner advert that gets lost among the digital noise.

Many businesses gambled with ‘lockdown’ as more of a digital opportunity. They increased their online ad spend to position their brand while there was a surge in online traffic, but with people suffering from digital overload and with remote working now becoming the norm, businesses trying to cut through the noise were finding that messages quickly became blurred and often ignored. Reinvention and innovation are now needed to reach the target audience and be successfully heard.

Who’s mailing?

There are distinct industries that have thrived during the pandemic and have taken advantage of the direct mail opportunity, sending out vouchers, discounts and personalised offers to consumers and reaping the rewards.

Supermarkets, ‘meal-kit’ recipe box delivery services, health and wellbeing products, financial services (mortgage, banking and debt relief) and insurance services (health, vehicle, medical and life) were at the forefront of marketing through the crisis, using direct mail as the tool to talk to existing customers and prospects.

Identifying opportunity

GlobalWebIndex research indicates 85% of consumers are ready to see brands get back to normal, and it’s down to printers and marketing agencies to give businesses tangible ideas that can be brought to life and delivered to the hands of prospects.

This presents an opportunity for paper and print to step into the limelight and show the combined power that it can deliver when done well.


Two Sides The facts relating to Covid-19 transmission through paper/cardboard surfaces

Carbon Brief Analysis: Coronavirus set to cause largest ever annual fall in CO2 emissions

Decision Marketing Direct mail and door-drops shine during Covid times

Sequel Response The state of direct mail during Covid-19, and beyond

Royal Mail MarketReach How mail can support brands during Covid-19 and beyond